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Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide


"Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry



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McMurtry was born on a Texas ranch, learned to ride at age three and herd cattle by age four. His key motivation for writing “Lonesome Dove” was to understand his cowboy father.


Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.


Ex-Texas rangers on epic Texas - Montana cattle drive/character test


Hanging of horse thieves/murders, one of whom was a former Texas Ranger and friend.


Transforms a pulp fiction genre – the Western – into literature; avoids cowboy clichés by delving into the humanity of the cowboy world. Shows the fears and ugly side of cowboys and rangers as well as the bravery and skills.


One of longest Pulitzer Fiction winners, weighing in at 864 pages; enough content for a 36+ hour from Texas to Montana round-trip drive (in a car).


One face. Show integrity in all you do. A position of power like law enforcement magnifies disconnects and bad behavior.


The heroes presented are white retired Texas rangers and cowboys who steal stolen horses and cattle from Mexico. Mexicans referred to as bean eaters. Native Americans are dangerous enemies to be killed, avoided, or exploited and occasionally respected. The word “whore” at least 164 times in the novel; and most women are “sporting women.” One mother walks out on her family; the other prefers horses. Relationships between men are revealed in an unusually detailed and insightful way.


Buttermilk biscuits, excessively spicy bean and fried sowbelly. Varmint stew if you have access to possum and/or snake. If you’re in the mood to make a marriage proposal, serve only cornbread. Beefsteak in large quantity also an option.


“We chased out the Indians and hung all the good bandits. Has it ever occurred to you that everything we’ve done has been a mistake? ... You and I did our jobs too well. We killed off most of the people who made this country interesting to begin with.”


Saloon, campfire, tent, or really hot porch. Extra credit for inclement weather.


How does the mythology of the Old West square up with reality, with this novel, and with other westerns?
Why does law enforcement cross the line and become criminal?
How were buffalo hunters perceived in the Old West?
Why were Mexican men chosen for the role of camp cooks?
Deets, the only Black man in the cattle company, is the most skilled. How is he treated at different points in the novel?
Compare the actions and attitude of the Native Americans, Mexicans, and Texas cowboys in the novel.
What options did women have other than prostitution or marriage in the old west? What about men? What path would you have chosen?


Browse in Booked Up, McMurty’s bookstore on the Texas Panhandle in Archer City, TX.
Or go to a Montana dude ranch or go horseback riding closer to home. Beware of water moccasins if you cross a river.


1989 Lonesome Dove TV Mini Series and 1994-1995 Lonesome Dove: The Series


Sequel: Streets of Laredo (1993)
Prequels: Dead Man’s Walk (1995) and Comanche Moon (1997).

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